Tuesday, 9 March 2010

09/03: PLAYTIME!!

David and I are about to fly off to our home in sunny Fuerteventura (Canaries) for some R&R!!     We have to get up at around 4.30am tomorrow morning but its worth it as we'll be in sunshine by lunchtime tomorrow!!

It has been a busy, but wonderful day today.   We met my stepdaughter (Caroline)  and her boyfriend, and David's Mum at a Kentish Pub for a lovely lunch to celebrate Caroline's **st birthday!!   We then went on to have coffee with our best friends who will  be house-sitting whilst we are away and whose beautiful and talented grand-daughter drew a portrait of the two of us .... I will be mounting and framing this when I get back after our break .. but what chance do we aspiring artists have when faced with talent like this ( the artist is 6 years old)!!

Friday, 5 March 2010


Just a quick posting as this is one of the rare occasions that David is cooking Dinner - and I need to be ready when he presents the 'masterpiece' :o)

Snowy has been finished and approved so will be en route to Wales shortly where he will be professionally framed ready for presentation to my client's brother at his birthday party.


Overnight my blog was infected with some malicious code that forwarded visitors away from my site. Scarily, it seemed to be multiplying rapidly so we needed to isolate/remove it urgently. No idea how it got through my firewall ....

David and I spent hours trawling through html and eventually found the code that had been added - repeated in two places - but it couldn't be edited out through the control panel, even using the html editor. The code had attached itself inside two widgets. Removing the widgets took the code away. In my case the 'clock' and the 'calendar' widgets were the carriers.

It looks like it wasn't an attack on my website; it was an attack on the widgets and everyone who uses them. I've had no response from the Help Teams/Forum at Google - despite sending them several emails. I can see from the forums that this has happened to a lot of Bloggers recently.

If anybody is on the receiving end of this nasty code - email me and hopefully I can save you hours of searching. I won't show the (very long) offending code here in case it 'bursts into life'. I'd hate to be responsible for perpetuating it

Thursday, 4 March 2010


When my pencils didn't turn up this morning I did panic a little and decided to drive to my nearest art shop which is approx 10 miles away in Canterbury.   Although its a huge shop, they never seem to stock whatever it is I'm looking for - and today was no exception.  No pencil extenders and the only white pastel pencils sold individually were Derwents (old range).   I do use Derwents, but prefer the Conte white.   I bought a couple to 'tide me over' and, of course, when I got back home my SAA order had been delivered by courier!!!

So, not too much progress to show on Snowy - I have done more work since I photographed this stage but won't take more photos tonight as the colours will really look strange in artificial light:

Here I've added more colour to Snowy's nose and worked on his tongue and mouth.  I've extended the fur line and this is broadly where the fur will 'fade out' so it sits nicely in the mount.    Tomorrow will really be the day to reinforce the shadows and contours, re-define eyes and areas where the pastel dust has dulled colours a  little and draw in whiskers and 'finishing bits' then its over to my client to let me know what changes, if any, are required before I 'fix' the pastel.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


Snowy has just 'eaten' all my white pastel pencils!!

Actually, that isn't quite true but, if you read my earlier post, you will know that today I discovered the last batch of white pastel pencils I bought are faulty and they can't be sharpened without crumbling. I have more on order and they'll be with me tomorrow. In the meantime I used all the whites I had - the sanded papers I favour really do use the pastels up at a great rate. I've never used pencil extenders (sounds slightly obscene I think)?? but maybe I need to re-think. Look at these poor little stubs!!

Here are some pictures I took throughout the day - as usual, apologies for the quality and the changes in colour as the photographs were taken in different light conditions. I'll work more on the colour adjustments when the portrait is closer to completion.

I've started to lay down some of the colours I can see under the white fur and which will help to define Snowy's facial structure

Once the white hair gets overlaid you can barely see the base colours but without them the white would just look flat and unrealistic

This is as far as I got today - I added some base colour to Snowy's nose and continued with the white fur. Tomorrow I'll concentrate on the mouth and tongue - hopefully the new white pencils I've ordered will arrive in time for me to do more work on the fur.


What I mean is, I need somebody on hand to keep my pencils sharp - I hate having to keep stopping work to sharpen them. Its even worse as I appear to have bought a 'duff' batch of white Faber Castell Pitt pastels. I can't remember where these came from but it seems they've been dropped or badly handled at some stage, as fast as I sharpen them they crumble and break .... I have enough white to see me through today but the sanded paper I'm working on does eat pastel pencils at a great rate. Thank goodness for the SAA (society for all artists) - I've just placed an urgent order online and it should be here tomorrow - phew!

I'm just having a coffee break and giving my eyes a rest but I've done more work on Snowy the white GSD and will post pics later.

Jo has confirmed its OK to show the graphite drawing - this photo isn't wonderful as my camera really dislikes black + white pictures. As I wasn't sure if I was actually going to send this to them, I didn't take many pictures - here it is pinned on my workboard - you can still make out shadows where the paper was rolled in a tube when I took it on holiday to work on - it is Mellotex white paper which is almost cardlike so I'm surprised it has taken so long to recover from its journey. Anyway, Happy Anniversary Jo & Roy - I know its a few weeks' away yet but you and your friends/family made us feel so welcome - can't believe its almost a year ago!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


Its been a 'funny old week' really. I expected to be working on a portrait of a lovely Ragdoll cat. I'd received half a dozen reference photos and had lots of email conversations regarding size, payment, delivery etc., and then ... total silence! I have to assume the client has changed his mind, for whatever reason, but I'm reluctant to delete the pictures and/or instructions 'just in case' .... such a shame as it is a beautiful cat!

If you've been following my recent ramblings you will have noted a few references to a graphite double portrait I'd been working on recently. I started work on it whilst on holiday in Fuerteventura but the paper didn't take kindly to being rolled in a cardboard packing tube, or to the humidity, so I gaveup and brought it back home to the UK to work on. The portrait was of my fellow artist JO SIMPSON and her hubby ROY. Jo and I 'met' on an artist forum and became cyber friends over the years. We met 'in the flesh' for the first time last year when she invited me to Derbyshire to her wedding - having decided to make an honest man of Roy after UMPTEEN years!! As the first anniversary is PAPER I thought it would be fun to do a graphite drawing based on some of the photos I took then.

The portrait didn't turn out as well as I would have liked, but David (hubby) persuaded me to send it to them anyway and I'm really pleased that it arrived with them today and Jo and Roy tell me they are happy with it (in fact I'm 'chuffed as a maggot' - whatever that quaint expression means)! I haven't posted a photo of the portrait as I forgot to ask Jo if she'd mind .... we'll see

Before flying back to Fuerteventura next week, I'm delighted to be working on a portrait of a gorgeous white German Shepherd dog. The portrait is to be a surprise 40th birthday present for my client's brother and I have her permission to post some WIP pictures on the blog as he is unlikely to see them.

I was sent several reference photos and the portrait is based on a couple which are very similar but allow me to flit between the two to pick up as much detail as possible. I'm working in pastel on Sennelier Pastel Card on the colour they describe as Light Blue Grey. At a very early stage - this is Snowy:

I outlined Snowy today to work out fur direction and position of ears, eyes, nose etc.,

and then, as usual, I worked on Snowy's eyes to an 'almost completed' stage so his portrait gets a little personality as I build on this early start - and on to his ears.